Alabama lawmakers, groups react to Farm Bill passage

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The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the 2018 Farm Bill Thursday afternoon by a 213-211 vote. The measure’s passage means the Senate will have its turn to consider the package in the coming weeks.

The bill aims to support and sustain farmers and foresters by reauthorizing farm programs and directing the nation’s agricultural policy for the next five years.

Among the many provisions of the bill:

  • Includes provisions critically important to Alabama’s cotton and peanut farmers;
  • Maintains access to crop insurance through reduced premiums and waived fees;
  • Improves existing programs to maximize efficiency and reduce waste;
  • Restores funding for trade promotion efforts in an attempt to keep pace with trading competitors around the world;
  • Establishes substantive work requirements for work-capable adults;
  • Increases funding to $60 million per year for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, with $20 million to be used for the Farm-to-Food Bank program providing inexpensive food for low-income families;
  • Provides strong incentives for providers to offer quality broadband service to all of rural America; and
  • Helps equip and train the next generation of farmers.

Despite recent gains in manufacturing, Alabama remains an agriculture state. Farming, forestry, livestock and crop production represent more than $70 billion in annual economic output.

Here’s what Alabama lawmakers and groups are saying about the passage of the bill:

Bradley Byrne_YesAlabama 1st District U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne:

Our farmers and foresters are good stewards of the land, and I am pleased the House could pass this important legislation to ensure that our family farms and rural communities have the resources they need to keep up with the challenges of today.

Also important, the Farm Bill will encourage able-bodied adults to find jobs and get back to work by reinforcing work requirements in order to receive SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps.  In this economy, there is no excuse for capable Americans to not seek out employment. By encouraging Americans to find and retain jobs, we ultimately lift people out of poverty, strengthen the overall economy, and help save taxpayer money.

Martha Roby_YesAlabama 2nd District U.S. Rep. Martha Roby:

I am proud to serve Alabama’s Second District where agriculture is the largest employer, responsible for more than 93,000 jobs and more than $11 billion in economic impact. I know how critically important it is that Congress deliver agriculture policy that actually works for farmers throughout Alabama and our country and makes their important work easier, not harder. I was glad to be a voice for Alabama’s farmers throughout the process to ensure that our commodities receive fair treatment. This farm bill addresses many of the challenges farmers face daily, and that’s why I was proud to cast my vote in favor of the legislation today.

Mike Rogers_YesAlabama 3rd District U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers:

I was pleased today to see the Farm Bill finally pass the House of Representatives.  As the only member of the House Agriculture Committee from the State of Alabama, I know firsthand the Agriculture industry makes up over 40 percent of our state’s economy and that our farmers and producers count on this legislation every five years.

“This year, the legislation will help people pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty because it makes meaningful reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  It helps to incentivize all able-bodied individuals to work part-time or receive free training they need to find a job. Keep in mind, this does not apply to children, the elderly, expectant mothers, disabled individuals or caretakers of children.

Terri Sewell_NoAlabama 7th District U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell:

No child deserves to go to bed hungry, but that is exactly what today’s farm bill will do to countless children across the country by making drastic cuts to our food assistance programs. I voted against today’s farm bill because SNAP is a proven pathway out of poverty for our most vulnerable families, and I believe that cutting that lifeline of support is cruel and short-sighted. In Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, 60,000 households rely on SNAP to put food on the table. For farmers and grocers in our district, cuts to this program mean lost revenue and bad business. I urge Republicans to end their attack on our social safety net and work with Democrats to help working families build a better life.

Arise
Kimble Forrister 
| Executive Director, Arise Citizens’ Policy Project

The U.S. House just voted to make life harder for tens of thousands of Alabamians. The House Farm Bill would increase hunger and hardship across Alabama and across the country by undercutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program helps nearly 900,000 Alabamians afford groceries and lifts 195,000 of them out of poverty.

SNAP plays an essential role in supporting Alabama’s economy, improving public health and boosting rural communities. But the House bill would shift funding away from food assistance to a new, unworkable and underfunded employment and training system that would do little to help people actually find jobs. This move would take away or cut food assistance for millions of struggling Americans, including children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, low-wage workers, and people who lost their jobs.

ALFA Alabama Farmers FederationMitt Walker | Director, Alabama Farmers Federation’s National Legislative Programs

Passing the farm bill is a step forward in providing certainty and stability for American farmers in times of uncertain market and trade conditions.

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